Youth Athletes Benefit From Parents' and Coaches' Training

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Aug 27, 2008

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Child athletes perform better with a mastery approach to coaching, especially when their parents are also taught to reduce performance anxiety in their children. In a study published in the Journal of Youth Development (2007; 2 [1], article 0701FA002), University of Washington researchers provided a brief, one-time workshop to coaches and parents of 9- to 15-year-old boys and girls in one league of a community-based basketball program. The workshop taught an approach to sports that emphasized focusing on personal improvement, giving maximum effort, having fun, showing sportsmanship and supporting teammates, rather than winning at all costs. Coaches and parents of kids in another league (the control group) did not receive any training.

Preseason questionnaires showed that children in both groups had similar levels of performance anxiety. By contrast, at the end of the season, the youth athletes who were under the guidance of the parents and coaches who received the training had lower levels of physical stress and worry and a higher level of concentration than the other kids.

“We don’t ignore the importance of winning, because it is an important objective in all sports,” said researcher Frank Smoll. “But we place winning in its proper perspective. As a result, young athletes exposed to the mastery climate were able to concentrate more and they had less worries about their performance. Their bodies also reacted more positively. They were less tense, had fewer queasy stomachs and they didn’t experience feeling tight muscles.”

Fitness Journal, Volume 5, Issue 9

Find the Perfect Job

More jobs, more applicants and more visits than any other fitness industry job board.

© 2008 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at